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Have I changed? - A meditation on mental health.

Have I changed? - A meditation on mental health.

A Story by Con Campbell

I thought I'd try something new for this. This is intended to be the first on a run of meditations on my own mental condition.


I thought I'd try something new for this. This is intended to be the first in a run of meditations on my own mental condition. I'm not just talking about health, but also my own life experience, as well as considering the implications of experience in my life. I feel very exposed writing in this style and to this sort of non-metaphorical depth, but I take some comfort from it, as it enables me to connect with a world that I know for a fact experiences similar emotions on a daily basis. Thank you for taking the time to read my work. It's a big one, but I truly do appreciate it.


The world is changing. Or is it just me? Have I changed?

There was a time when all I had to worry about was what it was I wanted to pursue the next day. I blame age, and I blame experience. I believe that approaching the age of thirty is something that has an impact on the existential aspects of our deepest of frameworks. It is a transitional phase that I feel is taking me from being a man, to becoming a man of experience. Not that this notion is something that I carry with reverence or pride.


I’ve been told that I have always been a sensitive soul, that my emotional capacity is somehow compromised by my ability to truly empathize, sympathize and otherwise feel the world around me. During my youth this manifested as crying during arguments, becoming too overwhelmed to articulate my responses cleanly and having bouts of anger outbursts. Today? Now? The same sensitivity manifests as a great weight bearing down on the exposed bones of my skeleton. I feel the gravitas of the people around me that I am certain all feel the same weight. It’s almost as if the gravity of the earth strengthens as we mature. This weight’s influence isn’t targeted at the physical, however, despite the metaphor. Instead, the weight is focused solely and intensely on the mental. It causes the kind of fatigue you don’t just sleep off, and it causes the kind of damage you don’t heal with antiseptic concoctions and bandages. Perhaps what it is to be a sensitive soul is to exist in the most perfect of thresholds attuned most prominently to mental disease. The lengths to which we feel impacted by this are unquestionably tied to our experiences and our intelligence (intelligence referring to our ability to understand what has happened to us).


The first time I ever heard the words depression and anxiety used in conjunction with my mental state was when I was sixteen. I made an appointment with a doctor behind my family’s back and sought out to identify something I felt growing inside of me. Not in the stereotypical sense as one could say they feel doubt growing inside of their heart, but instead, this feeling felt infinitely more aggressive and malevolent. I felt invaded and wrong. Somewhat, I’m sure, as a sheet of paper would as a fire consumed its fibres, if it could.

It feels irreverently cliché as the world exists today to say that “I suffer from a mental health condition”, but the truth of the matter is, is that I feel like the condition of one’s mind is not a list of tick boxes but instead is an incredibly long scale that ranges from complete happiness to the most complex of despair, and therefore I feel that all of us to some degree experience mental crisis at some point in our lives. It’s just that some suffer more than others. For me? I could never target a point in my life upon reflection where I could tell you, “this is when I began to suffer from depression & anxiety”. My experiences aren’t so clear, as I do not remember a time where my mind existed in a state that is different to today. Perhaps that is the difference, and thus is the maturity that age offers us? The change in my mental state is not centred around the condition of my mind but instead in the understanding of it. I know more about the nuances of what triggers my condition at twenty-six than I ever could at sixteen. This does not offer any sort of comfort, however, as despite understanding my own activation conditions does not enable me to avoid, and consequently, I cannot deal with them as they occur. I am left wholly at the mercy of an evil I cannot possibly understand to a depth that would allow me control over it.


My own battle is not centred around these two diagnoses, however, as I feel that reducing the complexity of my mind to two categories of definition is not just reductive, but also restrictive. What I would say of myself in earnest, is that I understand myself to be a complex individual with a stronger-than-average level of intelligence, largely on a philosophical, existentialist level. I would concede, of course, that there are people that are more intelligent than myself, as well as people that suffer more than me, but what I would highlight is that they are not me. My experiences might not be unique, but their impact upon my mind is. I understand that this weight, and by extension, intelligence, is not something that is or can be understood by everybody. Not everybody that is ill is intelligent, and not everybody that is intelligent is ill, but it is irrefutable that there is a clear link between the two. This, I feel, is what causes the stigma that exists in the world today. People who aren’t one thing claim they are, and people who are one thing claim they are not. In addition to this there are also the sceptics, and those in the world that believe that because your life is not that bad by their standards, that you have nothing to feel bad about. I offer a scenario where during my teenage years I was told that my encroaching despair was labelled as a cry for attention and an act to strengthen this point.


I’m not sure what I would call this. It isn’t an essay, it is not poetry, and it is not academic. Instead, what this is, is a meditation of my mind. An opportunity I’ve offered myself to lay out some of my thoughts in a cohesive way that will allow me to analyse myself in a new way. It is something I fully intend to do again. Ten years into my experiences post-diagnosis, I am gravely somewhat honoured that my mind is what it is. It is this condition that I exist in today that allows me to write. It attunes me with art and gives me the opportunity to write with gravitas. I learn and it makes me a better writer. I experience and it makes me a better writer. Everything I do offers something to my cause and I am grateful for it, for without it, I am not sure I would exist with the same level of insight and philosophical consideration that I do today.


I wonder where my mind will be at thirty-six?




© 2018 Con Campbell

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Con Campbell
Con Campbell

Hull, Yorkshire, United Kingdom

I believe that the best writing is supposed to be raw; it's meant to be an accurate representation of what's inside of us. It conveys our darkest depths and our brightest heights. I expose myself .. more..